Time right to revive Singapore 'travel bubble' talksLocal | 30 Mar 2021 10:11 am
The Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said today that the time is right to resume discussions with Singapore on reviving the 'travel bubble' arrangement, now that coronavirus infections in Hong Kong have dropped.
This is "good timing to resume discussions,'' she said.
A travel bubble arrangement that was to start in November last year was delayed as a result of a resurgence of coronavirus disease infections in Hong Kong.
Lam said today, however, vaccinations will only facilitate travel to a certain extent.
“Of course, vaccination will facilitate the resumption of travel to a certain extent, but when we talk about traveling, it's a bilateral thing. Our people have vaccinated, whether the other side would then make life easier for our people to travel to their own country is a matter for them,'' Lam said.
“What I have asked my colleagues, particularly the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, to revive, to discuss, is what sort of arrangements we could put in place to facilitate bilateral traveling, particularly with Singapore, because as early as last October, November, we did have a very good scheme called the air travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore but unfortunately we then had a fourth wave from the second half of November, and that has been suspended.
“Now that our cases have come down to a very low level, and we start to roll out the government vaccination program, I think it is very good timing to resume the discussion so that people from both places could start to travel again.''
She said whether it would be made mandatory depends on the discussion.
"If the other side says that you have to make sure that travelers from Hong Kong coming to our place, like Singapore, have to be fully vaccinated, then we will have to tell the people, if you want to benefit from this air travel bubble, you have to be vaccinated. If they don't have that requirement, then we will not make it mandatory.
"I always appeal to Hong Kong people to come forward to receive vaccination because of the benefits to protect themselves, their family members, and community at large.''
Singapore's Minister for Transport, Ong Ye Kung, said in a statement on Monday, that Hong Kong has made a proposal "to reopen borders safely.''
He said Singapore is studying it, and "will be responding to Hong Kong shortly.”